04-26: Qualcomm has entered into a 3G and 4G patent licence agreement with Indian company Smartron; China-based panel suppliers have resorted to price competition in order to win orders from smartphone vendors; etc.

Chipsets

Qualcomm announced it has entered into a 3G and 4G patent licence agreement with Indian company Smartron. The royalty-bearing patent licence allows Smartron to develop, manufacture and sell WCDMA, CDMA2000, and LTE complete devices.  (Laoyaoba, Telecom Lead, Telecom Paper, Reuters)

TSMC president Morris Chang indicates that 7nm process will be entering trial production in Apr 2017, and expects the yield rate will improve rapidly. He also indicates that 5nm will stick to the original plan, and expects trial production in 1H19. (EE World, Laoyaoba, HQEW, Digitimes, press)

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MediaTek has reported 1Q17 revenues fell 18.3% sequentially to NTD56.08B (USD1.9B). MediaTek is expected to post revenue growth of slower-than-expected 10%-15% sequentially in 2Q17, which estimated previously a robust 20% increase. MediaTek will likely give a less-optimistic outlook about its performance in 2Q17, adding that it will be striving to defend its smartphone-chip market share in 2017 given that some customers have shifted orders away. (Digitimes, press, OfWeek)

According to Strategy Analytics, MediaTek’s smartphone AP market share rose from 14% in 2014 to 23% by 1H16 at Qualcomm’s expense. However, the tables are turning now, as MediaTek’s shipment growth reportedly stalled in the 1Q17. Digitimes indicate that the chipmaker shipped fewer than 100M smartphone chips in 1Q17, though the 2Q17 outlook is slightly better at 110M~120M units. The company reportedly shipped over 480M chipsets in 2016, so the company looks unable to top that number in 2017. (Android Headlines, Motley Fool, Digitimes)

Touch Display

WitsView reports LCD TV panel shipments for 1q17 totaled 60.16M units, representing a drop of 10.7% compared with the prior quarter but also a year-on-year increase of 0.4%. The growing demand for 4K resolution is accompanying the steady increase in the average panel size. Despite seasonal headwinds, 1Q17 shipments of UHD (4K resolution) TV panels went up 0.5% sequentially to reach 20M units for the first time ever and accounted for 33.3% of the total TV panel shipments. (TrendForce, press, TrendForce[cn], press, Laoyaoba)

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Apple will reportedly begin mass production of micro-LED displays at the Taoyuan plant in Taiwan from the end of 2017 and use them on its new smartwatch, Apple Watch 3. A micro-LED display, a next-generation display following an OLED, has a strong potential to be thinner and lighter because it measures only 5~10µm.  Apple acquired LuxVue, a US-based micro-LED display developer, in 2014. (Apple Insider, Business Korea, Laoyaoba)

China-based panel suppliers including China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT), BOE Technology, Everdisplay Optronics and Tianma, have resorted to price competition in order to win orders from smartphone vendors such as Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Gionee, Xiaomi, Meizu, ZTE, Asustek Computer and HTC, according to sources from the upstream supply chain cited by Digitimes. (Digitimes, press)

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In regards to the full-display trend in 2017, Meizu VP Li Nan indicates that this would focus on CNY5000 high-end segment, and Meizu will not involve in 2017. In regards to Huang Zhang’s comment of going back high-end segment, Li Nan indicates it will not happen in 2017. (CN Beta, Sina, 163)

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Following Sony’s introduction of CLEDIS (Crystal LED Integrated Structure) displays and Apple’s acquisition of LuxVue, more technology companies are exploring the possibilities of micro-LED in various display applications. TrendForce reports that there are now nearly 100 private companies and research organizations participating in the development of micro-LED displays. Besides Apple and Sony, there is the acquisition of InfiniLED by Facebook’s Oculus and the partnership agreement between Ostendo Technologies and KDX. (TrendForce[cn], press, TrendForce, press)

Memory

Micron Technology and Microsoft have announced a collaboration that aims to address the major challenge of providing trusted computing models for IoT deployments in industrial, automotive and consumer environments. Micron has also announced a new IoT security technology called Micron Authenta that helps enable strong cryptographic device identity and device health management in flash memory. (Digitimes, press, DoIT)

TrendForce reports that the average spot price of PC DRAM DDR4 chips has fallen by about 1.92% since 20 Apr 2017. PC DRAM’s chip prices generally have been higher in the contract market than in the spot market. The recent drop in the average spot price of PC DRAM DDR4 chips is thus a correction to limit the price gap between the two markets. TrendForce maintains the view that DRAM prices will generally stay on an uptrend during the entire 2017. This is mainly attributed to tight supply resulting from the lack of major fab expansion plans and yield issues with leading-edge processes. (TrendForce, press, TrendForce[cn])

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Biometrics

Samsung Electronics’ facial recognition technology requires more than 4 years to be solely used for mobile payment, a source from Samsung and Jin Seung-heon, a chief of Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute’s information protection research unit, indicated. (Android Authority, Korea Herald, 163, Tencent)

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Connectivity

AT&T had a tough 1Q17 in its wireless business, with fierce competition cutting into its subscriber base and revenue down 4.4%. AT&T said only 3.9% of its regular monthly customers upgraded a phone, the lowest upgrade rate the company has ever experienced and down from 5% in the same period in 2016. Wireless equipment sales revenue plunged 17% from a year ago to USD2.6B. (CN Beta, AT&T, Fortune)

Smartphones

Canalys estimates 114M smartphones shipped in China in 1Q17. After spending 2 quarters in 2nd place, Huawei moved past OPPO to recapture the lead in China’s smartphone market in 1Q17. Huawei has shipped close to 21M units to secure an 18% market share. Despite strong annual growth of 55%, OPPO fell to 2nd place with shipments of just under 20M units.  (Android Headlines, Canalys, JRJ)

Wang Xiang took the Senior VP position in Xiaomi after Hugo Barra left Xiaomi for Facebook. He has revealed that 2019 is a realistic goal for Xiaomi to enter the US market. (Android Headlines, GSM Arena, CNET)

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Digitimes suggests that Android will grab a 90% share of the global smartphone market by the end of 2017. Handsets running Google’s operating system have accounted for approximately 85% of the global market in 2016, noting that the ubiquitous mobile OS still is not showing signs of slowing down as it continues increasing its already massive lead over other mobile platforms. (Android Headlines, Digitimes, press, iFeng)

Foxconn reportedly “confirmed” that Foxconn received an order for 2 new models. It means that Apple will be released 2, not 3 models of iPhone in 2017. (CN Beta, Micgadget, Network World)

Reportedly there will be no ZUK Z3 model and analyst Pan Jiutang who added that ZUK Mobile is going to shut down in the coming weeks (GizChina, CN Beta)

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Meizu has lowered its shipment target for 2017 by 15% to 30M units from 35M set previously. Meizu also warned that its losses are expected to expand to HKD600M-800M (USD77.1M-102.79M) in 1H17 compared to HKD162.8M a year earlier because of keen competition and a delay in the launch of new models. (Digitimes, press)

ZTE MAX XL is launched at Boost Mobile – 6” FHD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, 13MP + 5MP cameras, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, Android 7.1, fingerprint scanner, 3990mAh battery, USD129.99. (Android Headlines, Android Police, IB Times)

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Meizu E2 is announced in China – 5.5” FHD display, MediaTek Helio P20 processor, 13MP PDAF + 5MP cameras, 3 / 4GB RAM, 32 / 64GB storage, YunOS, 3400mAh battery, from CNY1299. (Gizmo China, Android Headlines, Tencent)

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